City officials praise ODNR officer; more discussion on possible cemetery levy


More discussion on possible cemetery levy

By John Hamilton - jhamilton@wnewsj.com



WILMINGTON — An officer’s legacy and the city’s cemetery were the primary topics at Thursday’s Wilmington City Council meeting.

Officer Lagore

During his report, Mayor John Stanforth and other city officials paid tribute to Jason Lagore, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources officer who died in the line of duty.

Lagore, 36, of Clarksville, suffered an apparent medical emergency while recently attempting to rescue a 16-year-old girl who fell through the ice at Rocky Fork Lake in Highland County.

“He left behind a young widow and two small children,” said Stanforth. “It’s just one of those real tragedies.”

Stanforth praised the community for coming out to show support for Lagore and his loved ones during his services on Wednesday at Bible Baptist Church.

Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker spoke about the stories he had heard about Lagore. Shidaker mentioned that at one point the city was trying to recruit him.

“We’ve known Jason for probably the last decade or 12 years,” said Wilmington Police Chief Ron Cravens.

The chief spoke of how Lagore was able to assist the WPD when they were without a police K9, no matter what.

“When we’d call him at 2:30 in the morning or 4:30 in the morning, right after he just got back from a shift or came back from one of the parks,” said Cravens. “He was always up and out of the door, coming to help us with anything we needed. So, to him and his family, we’ll always be indebted to them. We will always be there for them.”

Cemetery funding

During the City Services Committee report, Chairperson Nick Eveland brought up the discussions they recently had over how to fund Sugar Grove Cemetery in the future. They also discussed whether or not to propose a tax levy for the November ballot.

Eveland said during a committee meeting on Feb. 25, he advised the cemetery fund was running a deficit of “about $150,000 a year.”

He told the council to way to avoid this from happening would be to either pay out of the city’s general fund or fund it with a levy.

“Anything less than a full (one) mill levy would probably be a Band-Aid approach,” said Eveland.

He said everyone on the committee agreed that Sugar Grove is an important aspect of the city.

“Not just for the interment of loved ones, but many people use it as a walking path,” he said. “In fact, there’s even a Friends of Sugar Grove Cemetery (group) on Facebook. It’s very active and that just goes to demonstrate how much this means to the people and the community.”

He believes the levy can provide for the cemetery, but also improve and expand on what the cemetery has.

Councilmember Jonathan McKay, one of the committee members, talked about how, with a rise in cremations, people may want to buy columbariums — a structure used to hold urns containing cremated ashes — in the future.

McKay also supports the levy because “there’s a lot of deferred maintenance” that needs to be done that the levy money could help with.

“We’ve got trees, a creek, bridges, we have paving that needs to be dealt with. There is a plethora of things that need to be taken care of,” he said.

The third committee member, Councilmember Bill Liermann, also supported the one-mill levy. Liermann also stated he believes they should be completely transparent with what they want to use the money for.

No official motion was taken during the discussion, but Safety/Service Director Shidakre expressed support for the levy and work on a presentation for it.

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More discussion on possible cemetery levy

By John Hamilton

jhamilton@wnewsj.com

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574